So Mr. Adams began tinkering.
The details of how exactly a Slim Jim is made are not for the faint of heart.
“Slim Jims begin as 60-pound frozen blocks of sliced meat labeled ‘beef head meat,’ which originates on the foreheads and cheeks of cattle,” The Times Magazine wrote after being given a “one-time peek” inside a factory in Gardner, N.C. The meat is mixed with chicken, 30 spices and “lactic acid ‘starter’ culture” before being “squirted into long collagen casings,” the magazine reported.
The mixture is incubated for 17 hours at 85 degrees, giving it a distinctive “bite.” The sausages, in 7,600-foot coils, are then wheeled into smoker ovens and cooked for 20 hours, their flavor augmented using an aerosol form of liquid smoke.
Ron Doggett, then the chief executive of Goodmark Foods, told the magazine, “You can beat the heck out of them, carrying them in your pocket.”
The man who gave the modern Slim Jim its distinctive flavor was just as resilient.
Alonzo Theodore Adams II was born in Davenport, Iowa, on March 15, 1925. His father, Alonzo Theodore Adams I, was a letter carrier; his mother, Florence Adams, was a homemaker.
After a summer road trip to Seattle with a high school buddy, Mr. Adams enlisted in the Army, serving in the 82nd Airborne Division, his daughter said.
While in Belgium at the Battle of the Bulge, Mr. Adams was shot in the face. “The bullet went in under one eye and out on the other side of his face right in front of his ear,” Ms. Harrington said. “It’s miraculous that he lived.”